REAP Hispanic-Rural Business Center Finishes Year Two
Providing Business Development Services for Hispanics in Rural Nebraska
BY JEFF REYNOLDS, RURAL ENTERPRISE ASSISTANCE PROJECT (REAP) PROGRAM DIRECTOR
The Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP), a program of the Center for Rural Affairs, recently completed work on phase two of the REAP Hispanic-Rural Business Center. The objective in phase two was to further establish a rural Hispanic business development program to provide key business development services to more rural Nebraska Hispanic entrepreneurs.
The Hispanic business center focused on four Nebraska communities during phase two: Schuyler, South Sioux City, Crete, and Madison. We anticipated phase two would impact 25 Hispanic startup and existing entrepreneurs, but the impact was actually much greater.
Highlights of the year included:
- Over 100 Hispanic entrepreneurs received substantial technical assistance or training from REAP staff during the project year.
National Boom in Hispanic Entrepreneurship
Recent reports from the U.S. Census Bureau show a major spike in the number of Hispanic-owned businesses. Based on data from the 2002 Economic Census, the report notes that the number of Hispanic-owned firms in the U.S. tripled between 1997 and 2002.
Overall, nearly 1.6 million Hispanic-owned firms generate nearly $222 billion in annual revenue. Still, Hispanic-owned firms are only a small portion of the total U.S. business base of more than 23 million individually-owned businesses.
Given the increasing number and stature of Latinos in American society, we can only expect this growth rate to continue, and even accelerate, over the coming years.
To access the March 2006 U.S. Census Bureau report, Hispanic-Owned Firms: 2002, visit
- All of the pilot communities formed REAP Rural Business Roundtables that will provide a vehicle for continued training and networking.
- All of the communities completed the five-session REAP Basic Business Training course in Spanish.
Business owners expressed gratitude for having access to services in their own language. “It meant a lot to have a program with a reputation as good as REAP’s supporting you within your needs in my own language,” said
Martha Martinez of South Sioux City.
REAP Business Specialist Adriana Dungan implemented the Hispanic work in northeast Nebraska. Adriana noted, “It was nice getting a lot of response from business owners and the public in general; it speaks volumes of the need to have Spanish services.”
The pilot communities were chosen due to their high population rate of Hispanics. According to the 2000 U.S.
Bureau of the Census, Schuyler (located in Colfax County) has a population of 5,371, with an Hispanic population of 2,464 or 45.9 percent of Schuyler’s overall population base.
Crete (located in Saline County) has a population of 5,989, with an Hispanic population of 828 or 13.7 percent of Crete’s overall population base.
South Sioux City (located in Dakota County) has a population of 11,925, with an Hispanic population of 2,976 or 25 percent of South Sioux City’s overall population base.
Madison (located in Madison County) has a population of 2,369, with an Hispanic population of 825 or 34.8 percent of Madison’s overall population base.
REAP has applied for funding to further expand outreach to Hispanic entrepreneurs. If approved, phase three will include piloting the REAP Hispanic-Rural Business Center approach on a regional basis in northeast Nebraska. At the same time, we will continue to research, develop, and build strategic partners to provide comprehensive New American services across all of rural Nebraska.
Funding for our work on phase two was provided by a Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) from USDA, the Mammel Foundation, the Nebraska Microenterprise Partnership Fund through the Nebraska Microenterprise Development Act, the Small Business Administration Microloan Program, and the Community Development Block Grant program through the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.